Scandal-hit hospital trust fined £733,000 over ‘wholly avoidable’ death of seven-day-old Harry Richford in Kent

AN NHS trust has been fined £733,000 today for failing to provide safe care and treatment following the death of a baby boy.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted failures in the case of Harry Richford, who died seven days after his emergency delivery in November 2017.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted failures in the case of Harry Richford

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust admitted failures in the case of Harry RichfordCredit: PA

Sarah and Tom Richford arrive at Folkestone Magistrates' Court today

Sarah and Tom Richford arrive at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court todayCredit: PA

The scandal-hit healthcare provider was sentenced in court on Friday over baby Harry’s death, a tragedy which was deemed “wholly avoidable” by a coroner.

His mum Sarah Richford said some of the care she and Harry received was “dire and inexcusable”, in a statement read out by the judge.

Care for mothers and newborn babies at the trust has been heavily criticised amid reports that at least seven preventable baby deaths may have occurred since 2016.

Harry’s parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, who spent years fighting for answers and better maternity safety, were at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in Kent on Friday to see the trust sentenced.

The total fine of £1.1million was reduced to £733,000 due to the trust’s guilty plea.

District judge Justin Barron said: “The trust fell far short of the appropriate standards of care and treatment in dealing with you.”

He said the failures led to “the greatest harm imaginable”.

He added that the trust is “very much under the spotlight” as a result of the failures and said it was important that it takes action to restore confidence in its standard of care, something Mr Barron said it is doing.

In April, East Kent Hospitals admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment to Harry and his mother under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations.

The plea followed a prosecution by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Philip Cave, finance director for the trust and a member of the board, acknowledged a series of failures at East Kent Hospitals and apologised to Mr and Mrs Richford.

Harry's parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, who spent years fighting for answers

Harry’s parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, who spent years fighting for answers

Sarah Richford said some of the care she and Harry received was 'dire and inexcusable'

Sarah Richford said some of the care she and Harry received was ‘dire and inexcusable’Credit: PA

He told the court: “I wish to emphasise that the trust does have insight into the failures that led to baby Harry’s death and the psychological injury caused to Mrs Richford.”

However, he denied suggestions that the trust had sought to cover up baby Harry’s death.

In a statement released after the sentencing, the Richford family said: “Having our lives thrown into the public eye is not what anybody wants to do but sadly this was needed to shine a light on the failings which led to Harry’s death in 2017.

“Today the East Kent Hospitals Trust were fined for their failings.

“Although we are happy that a sanction has been delivered, we are unsure if the system currently in place is suitable for public funded organisations such as NHS trusts.

“Taking money away from a financially challenged resource does seem counterintuitive and we would encourage policymakers to consider any alternative options.”

The family also vowed to support future investigations into maternity safety to ensure “long-lasting change” at local and national levels.

Harry was born at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, before being transferred to the intensive neonatal unit at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, where he later died.

Speaking to the PA news agency earlier this year, Harry’s father said: “At every hurdle it did seem that the hospital were trying to avoid scrutiny, they didn’t want to lose out on their reputation.

“So we kept having to fight and fight and fight, and eventually we’ve now got the inquests and the inquiries and the investigations that really mean that change should hopefully be more systemic and sustainable.”

Mrs Richford said the guilty plea in court shows that the care she and Harry received was sub-standard, adding that the family now have “some sort of justice for what happened”.

She told PA: “We’ve got some level of justice that means that, although Harry’s life was short, hopefully it’s made a difference and that other babies won’t die.”

Mrs Richford said the guilty plea in court shows that the care she and Harry received was sub-standard and that the family have 'justice'

Mrs Richford said the guilty plea in court shows that the care she and Harry received was sub-standard and that the family have ‘justice’Credit: PA

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